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The Moth’s Story Slam or: How Not to Judge
Posted By Queequeg On June 2, 2009 @ 9:35 am
One of the worst things I did in college and post-college was go to poetry slams. They sound so great in theory, but the reality is, the ones I went to completely failed to build and strengthen community (which I thought they were supposed to actually do). Instead, these slams were self-affirming forums to bolster rather privileged slammers and their enormous, and enormously frail, egos. Enter The Moth , which offers an alternative: the short story slam. The deal is this: prior to every bi-monthly show held in either Silver Lake or Venice, The Moth releases a theme, sort of like Iron Chef’s featured ingredient. Aspiring slammers sign up  to tell a 5-minute short story in accordance with this theme (only ten are randomly picked). Expectant listeners pony up the $6 fee and find seating in front, or on, the stage. Audience members who I thought aspired to Pauline Kael , if Kael could live by a 10-point rubric, sign up as judges. The highest-scoring winner is crowned at the end, and moves on, American Gladiators style, to compete at the next level, the LA GrandSlam.
I attended Memorial Day’s StorySlam at Air Conditioned (theme: falling) with high hopes that slamming short stories would be better than slamming poetry. I’m not sure why I thought that. Like a good short story, this event is only as good as its individual components. If the storyteller can barely tell a tale to a 2 year old, if the audience is too polite, or if the judges can only count backwards from 10 to 8, the momentum of the slam is slowed to the insignificance of a tap.